Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Tuesday 20 May 2014

7 year bloggiversary, motherhood and different versions of reality

7 years ago, when I started this blog, it was part of my attempt to press the reset button and start my life anew. I was 26. There were a lot of things I wanted to forget or not face up to, but more importantly, there were so many things I wanted to do. I wanted to live my dream life and wanted to be happy, and no one but myself was going to make this happen.

That was also when I met SR and left my husband (who SR will always refer to as "Saint Paul"). Suddenly the version of reality that mattered was the version SR and I created.

For us, writing our blogs, was akin to creating the story of our lives. I am not saying we lied or made things up, but the stories we told are what we remember as the truth. Anyone who has been a writer knows the magic of the written word: you can change the world and make yourself believe in an entirely different reality than people around you.

Over the years, my blog as the grand tableau of my life, has been challenged again and again. It started with people figuring out my identity. When people could look up my race results, my job, details about my past, not even minor alterations in the truth were allowed. At times, it seemed, despite me thinking or writing otherwise, I was nothing more or less than I was - to the readers. And there have been a lot of instances where readers have hated me.

I started writing about the safety of running during pregnancy. Just because I was a doctor didn't mean I could write statements about health and safety without references. My blog became more challenging to maintain, but I learned a lot about what it means to be a scientist - and the importance of accountability.

As I began to race more, my version of what happened during my workouts became so insignificant compared to the clocks at races. I could cut a workout on the track short and claim to have run faster, but if the goal is to get faster, accountability and accurate assessments of my abilities helped me improve and race smarter.

Yesterday, I was at Target with the two boys. I walked down the shoe aisle and took my eyes off Mattias, who was sitting in the large compartment of the cart (the kids' carts were all taken). I eyed some size 12 shoes for Christian and out of the corner of my right eye, I saw my 2 year old teetering on the brink of the top of the cart and then launching off, jumping as high as he could, temporarily growing small angel wings before he landed a perfect 10 landing on flat feet on the cream speckled Target floor - lifting his arms proudly over his head for the clapping crowd. Amazing. Every bone in my body was proud of my wild specimen.

Yet, everyone else there surely saw something else: a boy desperate not to be left alone or ignored by his mom, hopping dangerously out of the cart and almost breaking his ankle. Had my mom been there, she would have blown a gasket.

In truth, no one saw him but me. And I may have made up the part about the wings.

I like to think that my eating has gotten a lot healthier. I am not too thin. I eat a variety of foods. But if my step daughter sees my eating as restrictive and wants to be thin, she may very well become anorexic in attempt to emulate me. And suddenly, as a mom and step-mom, my version of reality is a lot less important than that of my kids.

Yesterday, as we lined up to start the Color Dash 5k, everyone was smiling, but there was a big wait to start even after the race had begun. I looked down at Christian with love, so proud he was going to run, but he looked up at me with fear. He said, carefully, in Danish "Mom, please don't start screaming because we have to wait to start". My heart broke and my smile got strange. In my version of reality, I only scream or cry if I am really upset or desperate. In his version, I am unpredictable. And suddenly, the only version of reality that mattered was his.

I could go on using this blog to tell my story, but it changes nothing of importance when my story is not the one that matters. Maybe that is why I rarely make time to blog. In fact, is this why mothers so seldom write?

Steve Q pointed out to me today that no one under 30 has a blog anymore. This made me sad because using writing to understand our feelings and to help others understand their own is undervalued in the Facebook era.

And I thought again about our trip to Target yesterday, Christian and Mattias sitting in the red cart, repeating in unison the word "tissemand" (Danish for "penis") and laughing. They were like two little crickets singing their joyful tissemand duet and no one could understand them - and this is what seemed to make them happiest - except their mother, who couldn't stop laughing. Every fiber in my body loved those two boys, and I smiled knowing, for at least that moment, my version of reality really was the one that mattered.

Running song of the Day:

Horseshoe by Withered Hand

We can kid our friends. Tell me was it easy to pretend? Like nobody is dead. Nobody in love will ever die again.


cherelli said...

Very insightful; whilst my excuse for not blogging has more to do with my Ipad having an inability to download pocs to record my last six months, a lot has to do with competing perspectives on what i initially per eive, then correct - and correct again- as Charlie challenges my reality. I've really enjoyed your blog, your travels and abilities evolve, you are a very intersting and intelligent oerson. I've particularly enjoyed the mix of scientific and family seven years often signifies a major new evolution or transition, I wonder where we will see you gravitate towards next??

Olga said...

That's a great post, honey, and so true. Our versions of reality change, and that is totally ok. As far as "no bloggers under 30" - I say there are simply practically no bloggers, period, some keep short posts akin to FB, some new runners entering scene post race reports... but I am with you, no FB can ever have enough space to put down so many thoughts that we try to organize in our heads. Sadly, the comment section is so silent, while writing still draws me in, it is discouraging to not have a dialog...Yes, you're guilty as well, girl!

SteveQ said...

My comment about blogs came from the sudden realization that I was no longer cool enough not to care what was cool, hearing people half my age talk about things I'd never heard of in terms I didn't know.

I'm sure those under 30 have some way of expressing themselves in more than 140 characters - I just don't know what it is.

I think it's been 7 years since you've mentioned "St. Paul." How long has it been since I've mentioned an ex... a week, maybe?

Robyn said...

I like reading your blog in part _because_ it's messy -- your running, and other people's running, and food, and family, and work, and science, all mixed in together.

Mine is much more tightly focused -- so far -- on my running and the things that support it. Less interesting, but less of a risk. Out of some antiquated sense of privacy, I keep the messy details offline (though my Facebook stream is probably 50/50 running and Outrageous Things My Children Said).

I hope to keep reading your insights, updates, and little triumphs well into the future!

Anonymous said...

I've always like reading your blog because your posts have insight, depth, and honesty. I'd rather read a post like that once a month than filler posts every other day. Congrats on seven years of blogging!


sea legs girl said...

Cherelli, your comment and support over the years has meant the world to me- I hope you know that. I think as Charlie gets older, this post will make more sense to you. I would have never written this when Christian was baby because well, who asks a baby for their opinion? :-)

sea legs girl said...

Olga, you make a great point about the comment section. It bothers me too. It is so easy to comment on Facebook. I often think of linking to my posts there for that very reason, because I too love good discussions.

sea legs girl said...

Steve, there is no need to bring up St. Paul, but I live vicariously through you when you mention your exes. It is fun reading.

sea legs girl said...

Robyn, you would probably also like our house and apartment in Næstved then because they both tend to be messy ;-). I know what you mean but I like reading your blog because it is clean.

Liz, thanks so much for the encouragement. It means so much to me that you take the time to respond to these posts!

Jill Homer said...

I relate to your thoughts — not only using journaling to process reality, but using it to help shape reality.

I agree with the decline in blogging but don't necessarily mourn it. Seems to me that many of the "quality" blogs stayed, and social media gives all of us an outlet for musings and news items, leaving blogs more focused. Thanks for keeping it up. :)

Olga said...

And yet you still managed to not read my blog post or comment on any of the last 20? :)

sea legs girl said...

Thanks, Jill. Somehow I knew you would be able to relate to this. And likewise about your blog! Thank you for the posts that make me think and the pictures evoke all kinds of emotions in me. That is a good thought that the quality blogs remain, but for how long?

Olga- I have just visited you in bloglandia.

Anonymous said...

I like this post too. All the things you mentioned that people have challenged you about are what make your blog more interesting than blogs like, well, mine, with just a collection of race reports.

And Steve, I am under 30!!! For a few more months anyway.


maria conley said...

Your boys are funny. I love reading your blog. Its very educational and inspiration! Welcome back to the USA hugs from Boston...

sea legs girl said...

Thank you, Maria!

Alicia, in terms of young people blogging, we'll call you "the exception that proves the rule" :-).

Mary said...

I've been blogging for five years and when I don't get comments, I sometimes wonder why I don't just keep a paper journal. It shouldn't be about comments, but sometimes it is, for me anyway, to know I have touched someone enough to write and get past the spambot. I've enjoyed reading your blog even though I am no longer a fast runner and not a mom.

Karen said...

Seems I'm late to the comment party, just saw your post.

I agree, there are so many ways to share things online that blogs have been on the decline. I like that some of the quality, thoughtful blogs (like yours, Mary's, Steve Q's, and Jill's) still remain. Without writers like them, I'd likely give up reading blogs altogether.

I'm also one of those under-30 bloggers, for another couple months at least.

Sara said...

Tracy your blog made such a difference in my life, I couldn't begin to explain. Your honesty and candor have been refreshing and I hope you will continue writing and sharing your journey. Having said that, it would be understandable (and also regrettable) if you chose to no longer post.

Regardless, I send you my best thoughts and wishes.

Sara - a fellow Orange County-ite.

sea legs girl said...

To Sara and Karen: thank you for encouraging me to continue blogging! It means a lot to me to know that you guys have gotten something out of reading along. Nearly every day I write a blog post in my head, but just don't find the time to write it down. Maybe now that the PhD is done- I hope! I certainly miss the community of people I have gotten to know through blogging.